Michigan Tech's new research boat
Michigan Tech's New Boat-- The Agassiz

Michigan Tech’s location on the Keweenaw Waterway affords students, faculty, and staff access to the embayments, islands and open waters of Lake Superior.

The university operates the R/V Agassiz in support of its mission in aquatic sciences. Custom built for Michigan Tech in 2002, the 36-foot, aluminum-hulled Agassiz is powered by twin 200 hp Volvo diesel engines, the vessel has a top speed of 25 mph and a cruising radius of 250 miles. The boat is designed, constructed, inspected and outfitted for use on the open waters of Lake Superior day and night and at all seasons of the year.

The vessel features a heated pilot house with the latest in electronic navigation equipment and a cuddy cabin with marine head. Deck gear includes two oceanographic winch – davit systems.

The vessel is inspected and certified by the U.S. Coast Guard and carries a full complement of safety gear. The Agassiz is operated by a licensed captain and can carry 18 passengers. Charters are available for educational and research purposes.

The new vessel supports the university's education and research mission on Lake Superior. Approximately two-thirds of the hull is devoted to open deck space, equipped with dual winch and davit systems for deployment of mechanical and computer-aided sampling and measurement devices. A removable 10-meter mast will support air quality sampling at the water's surface and at elevation.

The cabin has state-of-the-art electronics featuring compass, radio, cell phone and an integrated Furuno navigation system (depth, GPS, radar and electronic plotting). A scientist's station in the pilot house houses computing equipment, linked through the bulkhead to deployable sampling devices. Below decks, a cuddy cabin provides room for the head and equipment storage.

The boat will accommodate a pilot, deck hand and 18 guests for class trips and on the order of 6 scientists, gear and samples for research work. We have provisionally named the vessel the R/V Aggasiz in honor of Louis and Alexander Agassiz, father and son, natural scientist and civil engineer, with close ties to Lake Superior and the Copper Country in the 19th Century.

      Click on the snapshot for a larger image.

R/V Agassiz on Keweenaw Waterway

Photos by Joan Chadde, Western U.P. Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education

Dr. Martin Auer speaking on the R/V Agassiz deck.

Sediment was brought up from the lake bottom using the ponar

Lake Sediment on the R/V Agassiz deck.

The builder, Winninghoff Boats of Rowley, Massachusetts, has constructed similar vessels for the State of Connecticut, the University of Maine, Michigan State University, Rutgers University and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Winninghoff products were recently featured in an article on the 'aluminum revolution' published in Soundings.

Funding for the project has been provided by the Michigan Tech - National Science Foundation Keweenaw Interdiscplinary Transport Experiment (KITES) Project and a consortium of campus units including:

  • Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering,

  • Department of Biological Sciences,

  • College of Engineering,

  • Office of the Vice President for Research,

  • Remote Sensing Institute,

  • College of Arts & Sciences,

  • Department of Chemistry,

  • Department of Geological Engineering & Sciences,

  • School of Forestry & Wood Products,

  • with support from the Century II Campaign Endowed Equipment Fund.

Great Lakes Ecology Course

R/V Agassiz Home Page: More Details

Information about charters

Photos of R/VAgassiz Construction

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Plankton net being deployed.

Sniffing the lake bottom sediment

The boat has lab facilities such as this microscope.

Copyright © 2003
Civil & Environmental Engineering Department at Michigan Tech
Department E-mail: cee@mtu.edu

Last Modified: June 11, 2003 C&EE Webmaster: ehgroth@mtu.edu